On November 22, 2011, Google discontinued support for mobile Java and BlackBerry versions of its Gmail app and removed the download links for these apps from their sites. The Gmail apps still work and are the best way I’ve found to access Gmail on non-touchscreen feature phones. I haven’t used a BlackBerry in years but when I did I used the Google app because it worked better with Gmail than BlackBerry Mail did.
As these apps still work I’m posting them here for anyone that wants them. These are all official versions that I downloaded from the Google servers over a period of years. They are unmodified other than changing the URLs in the .jad files to point at the .jar or .cod files on my servers.
These apps work best on non-touchscreen phones. I’ve run the Gmail app on a N0kia N8 touchscreen phone and it works but it’s frustratingly difficult to accurately tap the correct items in the tiny hierarchical menus
There’s also a link to Gmail V. 2.0.7 for touchscreen BlackBerrys posted in this CrackBerry Forum thread.
A word about the various versions. V 2.0.6, which was released in 2009, was the last Gmail mobile Java version. It includes the following new features compared with previous releases
- Support for multiple Gmail accounts including Google Apps accounts.
- Offline capability. You can launch Gmail even when you have no signal to read emails that you previously downloaded and to compose new emails. When you hit “Send”, instead of complaining about the lack of connectivity, Gmail will hold the newly composed email and send it when you move back into a area with coverage.
- Polling, Gmail will check for new email periodically, approximately every 5 minutes when it’s in the foreground and every 20 minutes when running in the background.
- Alerts, when new mail arrives Gmail will alert you. The Java app vibrates once when a new email arrives, which is easy to miss. With the BlackBerry app the Gmail icon on the home screen changes to indicate you have unread mail. Gmail also hooks into the Blackberry OS’s profile based notification system allowing you to configure the phone to do any combination of vibrating, ringing or flashing the message waiting LED continuously to indicate new mail.
Unfortunately, 2.0.6 doesn’t work for everyone. There are two main problems:
- Size: Gmail 2.0.6 is a relatively big download, the generic Java version is 257 KB and is too large to run on some older and very low end current phones. Version 1.5 was significantly smaller at 156 KB and 1.0 smaller yet at only 113 KB. (The BlackBerry version of Gmail that is even larger, but even older BlackBerries seem to have sufficient resources to load and run it without problems.)
- Data and battery consumption: The constant polling uses data and battery power and there is no way to disable polling or change the interval. This is an obvious issue for anyone who pays for data by the KB or who needs to make their battery last as long as possible. The only way to stop Gmail from polling is the exit the app which means you have to restart it every time you want to check you mail. Gmail’s start up time is quite long compared with the time required to do an on demand poll with 1.5.
For most Java phones the easiest way to install Gmail is to point your phone’s browser at the mobile version of this post on wapreview.mobi and click on one of the JAD file links.
JAD (Java Application Descriptor) files are small text files that contain meta data about the actual application which is the JAR file. Loading the JAD file is the recommended way to install Java apps. The phone will read the JAD, which contains a link to the JAR, and then automatically download and install the JAR. Occasionally a phone will have trouble understanding the JAD but will be able to download and install the JAR directly. So if you get an error with the JAD link, try clicking the JAR file link.
Originally posted 1-Feb-2009. Updated 14-Dec-2011 with 2.0.6 versions added and links modified to point to copies of apps on my servers.